Towards a New Industrial Architecture: A Workplace for Liander
Energy network company Alliander has invited De Zwarte Hond to design new premises for network operator Liander, technical specialist Qirion and measurement company Kenter in the port area of Amsterdam Sloterdijk. The new site will be focused on the future, and on new forms of collaboration.
The design team, consisting of De Zwarte Hond and DGMR, Coare Architecture, IMD Consulting Engineers and De Urbanisten, has created a plan that not only revolves around flexibility, scalability and modularity, but that also stands out for its equal attention to all parts of the programme. Workshops and storage areas have been designed with the same care as the office building and are welded together into a robust and impressive whole. The plan thus evokes memories of the heyday of industrial architecture, but with an underlying sustainability ambition that is entirely focused on the future. At the same time, the building is cost-efficient, by building compactly, limiting the façade surface and focusing on the reuse of materials.
The City of Amsterdam has a serious space shortage and is looking for business locations that can be redeveloped into housing. One such is the location on Spaklerweg in Amsterdam Amstel, where Liander has been housed for more than 100 years. After a joint search, the city and network operator have found a suitable plot for a new building in the Sloterdijk 3 port area. Liander Westpoort, as the location will be called, will offer space for offices, training facilities, workshops, storage and test areas.
De Zwarte Hond has translated the functional requirements and aspirations for the new location into an extremely resilient design, which takes account of Liander’s possibly changing future needs. This commitment stems from the joint desire of architect and client to make a positive contribution to social challenges such as climate change, the scarcity of raw materials, diversity and labour force participation.
By allowing the office staff to share facilities with the people working at the outside locations, the new building becomes an ideal place for collaboration. The communal restaurant, the roof terrace and the places to sit in the outdoor area all stimulate mutual encounters. The industrial silhouette of the buildings and the weather-resistant steel façades fit in well with the business location of the port. At the same time, the buildings form an attractive working environment – an important point of attention for Liander, in finding and retaining new employees.
The design consists of a rhythmic alternation of buildings with spaces in between, which are positioned on the plot like a barcode. At the top, the office forms a height accent and is therefore visible from the A5 motorway. From the street, a range of views offers a glimpse into Liander’s various activities.
The client, Alliander, foresees a major change in the demand for and use of energy. Today’s scenario is no longer representative of the future. This is why Alliander is committed to the intelligent development of its grid. Such intelligence is also called for in the design. Together with Copper8, sustainability ambitions have been formulated especially for Alliander and this project, which are reflected in the design in the high degree of flexibility, scalability and modularity. This will make the design adaptable, efficient and resilient into the future. Together with DGMR – which is also responsible for fire safety and building physics, among other things – an installation concept has been developed that can be adapted over time. In Coare Architecture’s interior design too, adaptability and future-proofing are important themes.
For the office building and training facilities, a flexible wooden construction has been designed with construction company IMD Consulting Engineers that also creates a healthy working environment. The parking garage can grow or shrink thanks to a demountable construction design. The weather-resistant steel façades are also designed to be demountable, and are partly made from locally harvested materials. The buildings are energy neutral and with the workshop’s enormous PV roof can even generate most of the power needed to charge the forklift trucks and other equipment. All of this makes the complex easily adaptable and reusable in the future.
De Urbanisten designed a landscape plan for the space on and around the buildings that is inviting for humans and animals. The rich vegetation provides a habitat for insects, birds, amphibians and small mammals. Rainwater is stored on site and used for watering. With this design therefore, Alliander is also contributing to a climate-adaptive and nature-inclusive environment.
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